Get To Know: Aztek

by Kieran Mallon, Dec 17, 2018

“Other people... They just don't go as elaborate as we do.”

Aztek with PAX - Friday March 30th

Promoters are a dime a dozen. This is a fact.

With electronic music muscling its way into the mainstream, it's become easier and easier for anyone with a passing interest in events to get involved in the club scene. This is, inherently, fucking wicked. More people are organising and attending dance music events than ever before. Ravers have never had a more diverse roster of events to choose from on nights out.

However, with this influx of money and interest, comes a lot of half-assed clubnights. We've all seen them, probably most of us have attended them. With more and more inexperienced promoters joining the literal and metaphorical party, there are always gonna be some duds - because running a successful event is actually a pretty serious amount of work.

So, when an event comes along that is obviously fuelled by passion, and not just for music, but for well-organised, well-thought-out, original parties, you can't help but take notice.

Established in the summer of 2017, Aztek is a far cry from your run-of-the-mill clubnight.

The difference, before the fire dancers, the angle grinders, the custom-built DJ stages, the intricate canopies, the handpicked residents, and the 10ft totem poles, is the backing of a team of organisers who really, really give a shit.

It took less than five minutes from sitting down with George, Paddy, and Luke, three of Aztek's key players, for their enthusiasm to become apparent. Sometimes you meet promoters and you want to take a shower afterwards. Not so here. 

Half an hour in and I had barely said a word, instead furiously making notes whilst the trio took turns to wax lyrical about nightlife, the scene in Brighton, where it's headed, where it's been, music, anything. For some people its sports, art, history, literature, for these guys, it's events. Specifically: what makes a great one.

"I wanted people to turn around the corner and be like... Woah. What the fuck?"

Their first event took place in the summer of 2017 - they booked tech house DJs Sidney Charles, Prok & Fitch, and GW Harrison. All solid DJs (who have since enjoyed pretty massive success) and certainly big enough names for a debut event. Not only did Aztek shell out for a trio of headline bookings, they also went above and beyond - a common theme at Aztek events - on the production.

Enlisting the help of a Bristol-based production company, George, Paddy, Luke, and Rash, completely overhauled The Arch, one of Brighton's seafront venues, transforming it from floor to ceiling with custom built Mesoamerican decorations until the club was completely unrecognisable.

However, one of the brutal truths of the events industry is that no matter how hard you work, there will always, always, be variables outside of your control. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's an artist cancellation. For Aztek, it was Elrow Town.

Elrow Town, for the uninitiated, is a London-based day festival, organised by Elrow, one of the biggest dance music promoters in the world. They've got a million likes on Facebook, their events generally sell out in a couple of minutes, and crucially, they go hard on the décor - so more or less the toughest competition that Aztek could've asked for.

There was a lot on the line. Not just money (although there was that  - three DJs and custom décor doesn't come cheap) but also reputation, pride, and the potential for crushing disappointment. To have worked so hard only for a much bigger, well-known event with a similar premise to be announced on the same date just an hour up the road is a kick in the teeth no matter who you are. Many promoters would have started managing expectations at this point. 

"Yeah... That was quite a scary night"

Aztek, however, saw this as an opportunity. They booked an entire coach and set up a meeting point at the festival through Facebook with the promise to take anyone looking for some afters to a dazzling, Elrow-like event on the south coast. And it worked.

In the end, revellers were coming down from London who hadn't even heard of Aztek until a few hours earlier. Enthusiastic ravers were coming down to Brighton for the first time ever because they'd heard of a high-production clubnight which had all the qualities of an Elrow afterparty. The night was, of course, a massive success. The club hit capacity, the Aztek crew turned a profit, and within a few days they had booked in their second party.

What followed was a busy few months as Aztek tried to match the demand for their events whilst maintaining a high visual standard, and, crucially, not oversaturating their position in the market.

And they did a fantastic job. Their second event featured UK heavyweights Shadow Child and Leftwing & Kody, riding a wave of prestige from their debut, they improved upon their already winning formula. Some two weeks later they assisted in one of Brighton's coolest Halloween events at Stanmer House (who now refuse to host dance music events - which tells you exactly what sort of party it was) and they rounded out the year with a NYE Room 2 appearance at The Arch.

"We're thinking about the long-term plan, not just the next event" 

Aztek return to Brighton with one of the biggest electronic music acts around, George Fitzgerald on the 19th January. You can get your ticket now with native. 


Local Talk: colours

We chat to the lovely folks behind south coast bass party 'colours' ahead of their event at Hideout on March 3rd.

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